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ALP Journey – Traditional Chinese Culture and Artefacts

9 Sep

By Xin Hua (Theme II: Traditional Chinese Culture and Artefacts)

Photo credits to Amanda and Jessie 

Time flies and ALP has come to an end. Words aren’t enough to share about the journey.. so let’s have the photos to do the “recap”


Week 2: Trip to LiangZhu Museum with the Architecture theme. (strange faces I see.. Even my own theme mates)


Week 5: Visited Ningbo Museum and bid farewell to the “Ningbo-ers”. Some peeps had to say goodbye to their roomies and their “tap-tap” food from ZJU canteen.


Week 8: Cheng Huang Ge. Yes, it was 大师’s theme very first outing with the Masters from the Hangzhou Institute of Arts. (A warm day as summer was approaching.)



Week 8: Wan Song Shu Yuan. We saw many little models in the museum depicting scenes of olden days China and the festivals.



Week 9: Nan Fou Jin She. Pieces of artwork influenced by religion and beliefs..

Bear with me a while more.. More group photos coming up!




Week 9:Pottery Museum at XiXi Wetland. We were very impressed by the work pieces, especially those done by the Master herself (the one in purple). We got to play with clay too, of course with her disciple beside us guiding.



Week 9: Wang Xing Ji Fan Museum. We watched a live demonstration of how fans were made and discovered why an object of such simple use could cost a bomb. Those patterns that you see on the fan’s spines are actually manually carved out one by one. And yes, we each made a fan too.


Week 9: Tian Shi Wei Diao. Our honour to meet this Master (the one in white) who “plays with his life”, his passion for miniature sculpturing is really impressive.

Week 9 onwards: We started working on our products for the final exhibition. There were rejections and changes were made time and again.

Yup, it’s us at work. It was lamp making week. With it came along Arduino and Processing lessons which we later used to input the effects which we could create into our lamps and made short videos.



I forgot to mention that there was a local student, Dan Yan, who joined us since week 9. However, she left us on week 12 to return to her hometown to spend the rest of her summer holiday. Although time spent with her was short but there were times of quality interaction with her.


Soon, 大师 theme starts to get busy with more work, Rhino, photoshop, brochure making and video-making.

We had a photoshoot too. Really thankful for having a group of experts (cameraman, director, translators, actors…) in our theme who puts in the effort to make the theme video a success.

And not forgetting our group photoshoot..


getting ready..


formal shot



getting a little crazier


brought in props


more poses..



So.. we managed to finish the video and brochure just in time for exhibition day!

The project booklet which we worked hard for - my baby #2.

What our theme showcased! A tea set, coasters and cuboid speakers...

plates and my baby #1 - lamps! The desired outcome wasn't achieved with the materials we had but I'm still very pleased to see my Rhino-ed work in reality :)

Asmi the smoker~ Hahahaha.

We had a closure ceremony held at ZiJinGang International hotel. Watched performances and various themes went up stage to present their work. We had YiFan representing our theme.

Presenting to you our theme members!

Zhong Ying, Amanda & Yi Qian

Then we took our mini-group shots! Here's mine - with Zhong Ying and Yi Qian!

╧º─╛╚τ╜≡╫Θ▓·╞╖3 ╧º─╛╚τ╜≡╫Θ▓·╞╖2 ╧º─╛╚τ╜≡╫Θ▓·╞╖1 ╧º─╛╚τ╜≡╫Θ▓·╞╖4

Jessie, Song Pei, Yifan & Liu Yu

Jessie, Song Pei, Yifan and Liu Yu~

╔≤╟·├µ╩╞╫Θ▓·╞╖1 ╔≤╟·├µ╩╞╫Θ▓·╞╖2

Elizabeth, Chin Yih & Asmidah

And finally, Seto, Chin Yih and Asmi! ╓┬╙├└√╚╦╫Θ▓·╞╖1 ╓┬╙├└√╚╦╫Θ▓·╞╖2 ╓┬╙├└√╚╦╫Θ▓·╞╖3

Eileen, Yanzhao & Xin Hua

Then there's Eileen, Yanzhao and Pang~ ╬─╓╩▒≥▒≥╫Θ▓·╞╖1 ╬─╓╩▒≥▒≥╫Θ▓·╞╖2 ╬─╓╩▒≥▒≥╫Θ▓·╞╖3

And here's the very last group shot we've got! Bye Tao Ye~ and Zhao Laoshi~

Let me sum up my ALP experience with “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” — Aldous Huxley.

Initially, we all had expectations for this exchange trip but things weren’t so smooth. We anticipated weeks of being master’s disciples but that didn’t happen. However, we ended up picking up things which we could have learnt in Singapore. After some thoughts, we felt that it wasn’t that bad after all. At least the designs we made had Chinese influence and the people from Hangzhou Institute of Arts planned museum trips to get us exposed to the various Chinese culture and artefacts. I have learnt many valuable lessons from this exchange, one of which is to be more accepting, that way one can learn better.

Really thankful for the opportunity to be on this exchange trip. Our mentors, like friends, were very patient and helpful. They patiently providing guidance to help us achieve better results. Not forgetting the loads of help and care from the local and SUTD staff to help us adapt to the foreign place quickly and comfortably. And of course my friends who made this whole trip a memorable, exciting, and longgggg adventure. This chapter of adventure ends in China, and shall continue in the new term that is starting in a week’s time!

End of ALP – Back in Singapore

7 Sep

By Chun Yong


*Deleted 10GB worth of files from ALP folder*

Finally, back in non-40 degrees Singapore. So much to wrap up, so many people to thank, where should I start.

Hmm… I think I’ll start from the end then. We designed fans. Like, absolutely cool leaf-blowing arduino-controllable epic whothehellcouldhavethoughtofthis fans. I don’t have many photos of the actual prototypes that were made (even more awesome, by the way), but here are the equally amazing 3D renderings we did:

frame.107 frame.107 frame.7


Pretty cool huh? Okay, I’m exaggerating, but still! We all learned a lot about 3D modelling and rendering and the pain one’s computer will have to go through every time it has to render one of our works of 3D art.


Doing these 3D models really take up someone’s time! They can be very challenging since it’s like you’re drawing in 3D space. Here’s a 3D model of a sports car that I tried to do.

IMG-20130721-WA0016 DSC_0387 IMG-20130721-WA0017


Not all renderings turn out as nicely though. (Notice how I show you nice ones) If one does not have an idea of what he or she wants to create, it becomes quite the abomination. Thankfully, our skills in sketching for quick idea generation and communication has vastly improved (or at least the interest has been sparked).

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Tip: Draw with thick marker pens on big A3 paper. That way, whatever you draw looks nice. On a more serious note, it really did take a lot of drawings and sketching to get to some presentable level. It takes a lot of exposure and practice to get that line to curve the way you want it to. At the rate we were using paper however, we were starting to get pretty concerned about the environment. That’s why I decided to get….


… a drawing tablet!! It may not be a wacom, but it definitely does it’s job in letting you produce digital sketches.

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Image029 Image030 Image031 Image032

All this was done using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. It was really cool to get to learn how to use all these software that allowed us to express our ideas and design products that could one day be made a reality.

It was in all a great experience, not just because of the projects we helped with or the facilities that were provided to us by our generous ZJU hosts, but because we had 4 really really (did I mention ‘really’?) long months to pick up any new skills and perspectives to be better designers for people.

As a show of our gratitude, we organised a pizza party a few days before we flew back to Singapore. Sadly, I lack the photos of the party (and the exhibition, and many other occasions.. was too busy experiencing everything to take a photo), I’ll just have to count on your imagination for now, so just picture sixty pizzas, twenty bottles of drinks, and music blasting from some speakers and people playing NBA 2013 in the middle of everything. I know, awesome party, you had to be there.

Every group also made a small memento for our ZJU mentors, most were decorated cards or photos to remember the 4 months of shared memories. As for our dear professor Ying…


… TA-DAAA!! You can imagine his face when we gave this to him. No? Well, me neither, he didn’t turn up at the party unfortunately :(. We passed it to the other ZJU people to pass it to him the next time he was there.

And so, after all the goodbyes, and packing, and checking out of the hotel, and getting on the bus, and yadee yadaa, we are all safely back in Singapore. As far as product design experience goes, it was extremely enriching, not because they guided us every step of the way, but precisely the opposite: we were given freedom (almost) every step of the way. Freedom to explore, freedom to learn, and most of all, freedom to fail. Should anyone who is considering embarking on this journey stumble across this blog, the only advice I can offer is to always have an open mind and to be willing to try out new things that could possibly just continue to not only give you that drive to do something great, but also to figure out what great things you can and want to accomplish.

See you in the upcoming Term!

IDC Robocon – Day 8 – Japanese village

16 Jul

By Glenn Sim

With 3 days left before the competition, the operating hours of the workshop has been extended to give us more time to complete our robots and prepare for the final showdown. As the canteens were extremely far from the workshop, we decided to give the nearby cafes a try. The concept of eating there is different and rather interesting. They have a wide spread of food (almost like buffet style) and we are allowed to take whatever we want. Well, here’s the catch: we have to pay for the food by weight. something different from what we have back in Singapore.

brazillian style: take and weigh concept

brazillian style: take and weigh concept

Extended hours at the workshop from today also means that we have less time to go out at night. however, this did not stop us from visiting the Japanese village in Sao Paolo.

A little bit on the history of Sao Paolo and how this whole “Japanese village” came about.

After the abolition of slavery (1888), São Paulo received increasing numbers of immigrants from Italy, Portugal, Germany and Spain. From 1908 to 1941, many Japanese immigrants arrived and formed the bulk of the Asian community in Sao Paolo. They resided mainly in Liberdade. It has also become home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Although today most Japanese-Brazilians speak only Portuguese, some of them are still fluent in Japanese.

Aska, the name of the Japanese restaurant we were recommended, operates till 9.30pm everyday and we were lucky to be the last on the waiting list.

researching before the japanese adventure

researching before the japanese adventure

The few japanese eateries we saw along the way:

IMG_3826 IMG_3825 IMG_3824




open kitchen concept in aska

Open kitchen concept in aska

Jared and I at the japanese restaurant

Jared and I at the japanese restaurant

all these for 2 person

all these for 2 persons

Our Sao Paolo adventures continues…..

ALP – Plant Factory 凯旋!

16 Jul


This is Yam Huo from the Plant Factory theme and we have embarked on our next phase back in IDI, ZJU, Hangzhou.

However, before we rush ahead, let me just do a little reminiscing of what happened for us during the previous phase over at Changxing (长兴). I’ve not included many photos this time, as Scott has uploaded many photos and done a wonderful job for his previous blogpost.

We started off with designing and conducting our experiments from scratch, and we are now continuing our experiments back in Hangzhou. Indeed, it was not an easy feat dismantling, transporting and fixing these 24 boxes up again. However, it is gratifying when we observe the results which tallied with our hypothesis.

With regard to the product development process, we did our market research, customer analysis, business model development, ideas sketching, Arduino and Processing programming. We also came up with the final renderings of our designs via Rhino, Keyshot and Photoshop.

On top of this, we have had our fair share of farm life. Take a look at our daily check-list: spraying pesticides, picking out caterpillars, watering the crops, weeding, battling the fiercest beetles, centipedes or spiders that we can find, playing with kittens and a really adorable pup, Ah Biao.

Ah Biao!

Ah Biao!

One of the most memorable experiences was that of plucking Chinese Bayberries (杨梅) off the trees. Chinese Bayberries became my favourite fruits when I first tried them in Hangzhou; they simply held my tongue captive . But these wild ones, they were nasty. They were so sour they could make the bravest souls cringe. However, we, members of the Plant Factory team, were made of tougher stuff. The low-lying fruits were few and far between and most of them were out of our reach. Nevertheless, we had brains and piggybacked one another to reach greater heights. And, that moment of ingenuity was shattered when we saw two villagers beside us using a ladder.

The low-lying fruits!

The low-lying fruits!

Jiasheng preparing to catch the falling bayberries.

Jiasheng preparing to catch the falling bayberries.

We caught loads of snails, clams, and lobsters from the streams in the farm and had a lobster and escargot feast on our dinner tables the following day. We also harvested cherry tomatoes and the vegetables which we grew from day one. They were indeed delicious to say the least. It might have been the placebo effect, but we reaped what we sowed and this was fulfilling in itself.

Planted, Nurtured and Blossomed

Planted, Nurtured and Blossomed

Escargots and Clams feast!

Escargots and Clams feast!

Rows upon rows of vegetables.

Rows upon rows of vegetables.

Ripe for harvesting!

Ripe for harvesting!

Of course, one of the highlights of the trip was when Ms. Corinna and Ms. Deborah paid us a visit at the farm. It was really thoughtful of them to travel all the way and meet up with us. It was great to see some familiar faces again!

In addition to working really hard, we do know about playing hard as well. We had a little break last week and we headed over to Shanghai, Suzhou, Beijing and more. Personally, I just came off a 24 hours train ride from Shaolin Temple and  Ping Yao (平遥古镇), which is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world with a history dating back 2700 years ago.  And, we came back to really good news: our team’s featured in The Straits Times and Zao Bao!

We were featured!

We were featured!

We have just had a presentation and interaction session with 应老师, who’s really one of the coolest Chinese Profs we have met around here. Looking ahead, we will now need to do a final consolidation of our ideas, prototyping and eventually an exhibition. Perhaps, by then, more of us will understand why Plant Factory may change and better our world.

ALP – Fast times

1 Jul

By Rui Hong

Hello everyone, Team UX is here again!

Time passes really fast when you are with great company! Due to work and play, we haven’t got the time to update on our statuses. Just to summarise, we are currently working hard on projects at our internship in Alibaba… but that is not quite the end to my summary. I am going to have to rewind time until 3 weeks before to let you see us having fun =D

端午节 is a really big festival here in China. Everyone heads home to celebrate this festival with their own families. Besides the congestion from the mass migration within the country, there were so many events going on around the country especially the dragon boating events. However, there was only one thing my group and I were looking forward to… the three days holiday! Together with the weekends, our team had a total of 5 days in our pockets to have fun! And the destination this time is…



On the first day, it was already 1 pm when we arrived at the hotel. To make full use of our time, we took to the streets immediately. Based on the travel route provided by our Beijing friend, we got to our first destination 西单.


We fell in love with this place immediately because of the long stretch of food stores. Not to my surprise, we spent majority of our time here eating instead of walking down the urbanised streets of 西单.

Here's a picture of Yong Cheng looking ever so cool along the food street.

Here’s a picture of Yong Cheng looking ever so cool along the food street.

We went on to explore the next location of the day which is known for the beauty red lanterns dangling overhead, 鬼街.


On the second day, we went to the renowned art street 798. Along the street, there are many warehouse sized buildings with shops selling a huge variety of artworks.  These buildings used to be factories owned by the communist party.


and look at what else we found.


These are some things that we might never get to see in the land sacred Singapore and I am glad our team took time off to explore China. We then proceeded to the night life in Beijing, 后海 to end off our day.


The third day was a very special one for me. I had always wanted to visit the Forbidden Palace in my life and today was the day. Knowing that we could not comprehend the rich history of the palace just by reading the signs put in place, we hired a tour guide and in the end, we took a photo together with him because he did such a good job guiding us.


At night, we went to Beijing’s Olympics park to witness for ourselves the famous bird nest. We did have some fun in the meantime =)


On the fourth day, it was time to scale the great wall. We had to traveled to the station to take a transit bus up to the start of the wall. Our journey towards the wall was really interesting. We met with a group of swindlers who were stalling us and tried to get us to pay 500 yuan for a ride up the mountain towards the wall when we only had to pay 4.8 yuan. Thanks to our quick realisation, we can now laugh it off easily as a close call. If only they have security camera systems to monitor these crooks closely.

Going back to the great wall, we managed to scale 8 levels within an hour to save, pretty impressive I would say.


That’s me on the great wall and here’s us with some cool guys.


With that, the fourth day passed by. On the fifth day, our last day, we visited the Summer Palace. This place had the most impressive scene among all the places that we visited during Beijing.


We also had the chance to be closer to the edge.


After our visit to the Summer Palace, it was time to go back. The journey back evoked a bittersweet feeling within me. On one hand, I was so glad that it’s finally time to rest while on the other hand, I know that I am going to miss travelling around China. This trip exposed us to the rich mix of history and modern culture of China. Having been around China, I now have a very different perspective about this blooming country. Looking back on our little trip, I think that this would be a part of our ALP experience that we will never forget.  With that, we have all freshened up and are all pumped up to start our internship =D


ALP – Happenings in the farm

30 Jun

By Scott Chiang (Theme 9 – Plant Factory)

Hi, I’m here to provide you with some updates on the elusive Plant Factory team.

Yes, the team that stays in the “farm” most of the time while the rest resides in the city.

So what has happened since the last time we posted?

Well, loads of stuff happened.

Firstly, the crops that we planted have grown really huge.

The patch started only with a little shoot in the first few days.

2013-05-31 12.16.25

2013-05-31 12.17.13

Then in a few weeks…

2013-06-04 18.10.11  2013-06-04 18.04.21

And after another week

The insects started feeding on those tender leaves

The insects started feeding on those tender leaves

Weeds start to grow

Weeds start to grow


It was as though we were growing weeds

It was as though we were growing weeds

and we had to start plucking them out till they are cleared

and we had to start plucking them out till they are cleared

Next, we also grew plants in our little experimental boxes.

The purpose of these experiments was to investigate how certain factors will affect the growth of the plants.

Remember them?

Remember them?

These trays go into the boxes

These trays go into the boxes

and are left to grow indoors

and are left to grow indoors

This is how they look like now

This is how they look like now

Every now and then, we had to “pay” for our stay… (just kidding!)

By plucking cherry tomatoes!

By plucking cherry tomatoes!

Look at how happy they are with their bountiful harvest

Look at how happy they are with their bountiful harvest

too bad, it's not entirely for our consumption

too bad, it’s not entirely for our consumption


The aftermath

The aftermath

Wait, is Plant Factory only about planting?

Are we city kids here to learn to be farmers?

Nah, like most of the other themes we have to learn sketching too.

To do that, we even invited a mentor from another theme to teach us.


Look at how serious we are.



even in the dark, we sketched

even in the dark, we sketched

Other than sketching, we also had to understand what our prospective customers want and need.

Hence, we headed to the streets in Hangzhou during the weekend to ask for interviews.

They were like, please.....

They were like, please…..

Interview at the interviewee's home to better understand his background

Interview at the interviewee’s home to better understand his background

Following that, we consolidated the data we had and presented our ideas for our product, the plant factory.



Then we had another mentor to teach us about formulating a business model for our product.


Formulating our business model

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Presenting them

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On one weekend, we decided to embark on an adventure and explored our surroundings.

we went up a hill

we went up a hill

where there was a monastery

where there was a monastery

where the elusive pagoda resides

where the elusive pagoda resides

we stumbled into the bamboo forest

we stumbled into the bamboo forest

and braved the suspension bridge

and braved the suspension bridge

We slogged, we designed and we had fun.

That’s what we did in Plant Factory!

Cya, Scott signs off.

ALP – Meeting the Masters!

28 Jun

By Amanda Mak

This is already our seventh week in Zhejiang. It seems as though it wasn’t so long ago that our theme gathered together in ZJU for the very first time. I still remember what most of us shared during our brief introduction: we wanted to learn about the traditional Chinese culture and also, do some traditional crafts.

We’ve been having a great experience learning about the Chinese culture through plenty of museum trips (in and out of Hangzhou) and through little weekly assignments. But something was missing. All of us were craving for that special something on top of all these that we have been going through, and that is the opportunity to learn from the masters of traditional crafts (a.k.a. 大师). It’s been a pretty long wait indeed, for us to finally meet the masters last Saturday when they came down for a little induction ceremony.

We knew that our wishes would soon be realised when we made our way to the Arts & Crafts Museum, Hangzhou, on Tuesday. When we were first told that the museum is where (most of) our masters work at on a regular basis, all of our faces glowed with anticipation – we couldn’t wait to see their great works.

A double-sided embroidery of Xihu (front: coloured)

A double-sided embroidery of Xihu (front: coloured)

A double-sided embroidery of Xihu (back: monochrome)

A double-sided embroidery of Xihu (back: monochrome)

This museum trip felt slightly different from all the rest that we’ve had so far. It could have been due to the clearer explanations given during the guided tour, or because we’re more familiar with the traditional Chinese culture, that we were better able to appreciate most of the works on display. At the end of the guided tour, we were given the opportunity to stop by several masters’ workstations to catch a glimpse of their extraordinary skills. Some of us even had the opportunity to try out embroidery before we bade farewell.

Yi Qian picking up drawing techniques from the master

Yi Qian picking up drawing techniques from the master

Wood craving demonstration

Wood craving demonstration

Chin Yih’s attempt at embroidery

Chin Yih’s attempt at embroidery

Eileen’s attempt at embroidery

Eileen’s attempt at embroidery

Even though it was just a short afternoon spent at the masters’, the trip certainly renewed our passion and interest in Chinese culture and crafts. While we’ve been enjoying what we have been doing so far, we are definitely looking forward to the day we become the masters’ little apprentices. After all, it will be this rare opportunity to learn from the masters that will make this exchange uniquely Chinese to us. We can’t be more optimistic about lies ahead!